Location: Nelson-Atkins Building, Gallery P13
Even famous artists like Abrecht Dürer in Germany were often called upon to make decorative designs for their wealthy patrons and did not always depict “high art” like Old and New Testaments scenes or historical or mythological subjects. Sometimes these involved deluxe versions of objects like plates and goblets, sometimes coats of arms or stained glass, sometimes even frontispieces to books or bookmarkers.
Decorative landscapes and still lives became increasingly popular for the furnishing of large mansions, both in town and country. If they included classical ruins, whether real or imaginary, this implied the patron was well travelled and sophisticated. Such landscapes were also used as backdrops in the theater, in which case they would usually be arranged in some form of perspective.
Image: Jan van Huysum, Dutch, 1682-1749. Vase of Flowers, 18th century. Black ink over black chalk with gray and brown wash, heightened with white on paper. Bequest of Milton McGreevy, 81-30/35.